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The perfect career
EMMA'S NOTES #57
The past year I have invested a lot of time in crafting my new career. I’m not ready to leave self-directed learning behind. In fact, I think it will always be a part of my work, as it is an expression of one of my core values. At the same time though, I believe that my next career lies somewhere else. I currently see three pathways in front of me:
I deeply enjoy the entrepreneurial process, but I do not feel a calling to optimize for profit. What lights my fire is to optimize for impact.
I enjoy making investment calls, and I think I have a natural savviness in this area. Currently, I am considering two types of roles:
Impact investor Investing in social enterprises that optimize for both profit and impact.
Grantmaker Investing in non-profits and charities.
Strategist at a small consultancy firm or research institute, consulting governments on policy-making (especially in conflict zones, and humanitarian crises)
At Minerva University I am studying international politics and policy-making. Right now I am taking classes on governance and constitutional law and I LOVE it.
I didn’t just wake up one day knowing that these are the three roles I want to gain experience in. A year ago I had a conversation with a mentor in which he asked me what kind of work I saw myself doing in the coming years. I had a long-winded and frankly, unclear answer. I mentioned entrepreneurship, and consulting but not for a big company, optimization for impact rather than profit….. Until he said: I think all you are saying is great and aligned Emma, but you have to be clear about what you want, so people can help you.
And he was right.
But that’s also a tough challenge. How do you become more concrete, when you actually don’t know yet? From my experience the past year, and from designing my own education for years - here are some tips.
These are non-linear. You don’t have to start at the top, nor do they in a particular order. Rather, I think you should do all of them whenever it feels right. Rather than setting things in stone, they are tools to blow away the fog in your head. Your desired work will reveal itself :)
Define your constraints
Counterintuitively, constraints GIVE you freedom, because they save you from overwhelm. Write down what your practical constraints are.
Location: I have to be able to spend at least 6 months a year in Barcelona
Barcelona is my home. It is close enough for me to visit my family, it makes me connect with myself and to put it plainly: I just vibe with that place.
Remote/hybrid/in-person: My work should never be fully remote
I want to have a human-to-human connection with the people I work with
Money: I have a minimum salary defined.
Anything below that is not sustainable and doesn’t represent the value I have to offer, so those options are ruled out.
Allow better options: focus on tasks
Role titles can be confusing, in different companies and countries the same title can mean a very different set of tasks. Kind of like romantic relationships. For some people, you go out three times and you are in a relationship, for others, it can take months before you reach the pre-relationship ‘exclusive’ phase. Same label, but different definitions. Besides that, you might not even know what kind of role you’d be interested in.
I got you. Make a list of the activities and tasks your dream job would entail. Imagine you are living an average day at work, what would you be doing?
Go a step further: scroll to an empty page on your calendar and plan your imagined work day hour by hour.
Some of the tasks I know I enjoy doing and do well:
Making high-level strategic choices
Managing large sums of money
Leading a team of people
Brainstorming solutions for complex problems
Innovative internal organizational structures
Allow EVEN better options: focus on feelings
The previous two exercises are quite rational, but you are more than your head. Therefore, imagine what you would like to feel at your work. You are going to spend the majority of your time there, so you might as well make sure you’ll feel amazing.
Go back into past (work) experiences that made you feel really good. Can you distill what they had in common?
Here’s my list of feelings:
Freedom to choose / decision-making power/feeling of agency.
Focussed - spending time doing this I know is impactful.
Variety - no day is the same.
Reflection - personal learning and growth in self-awareness.
Curious - to know how I can do better, for the people I work with.
Appreciated - for the value I bring, for the person I am.
If you try these out, let me know. And if you have my dream job for me, let me know too.
Wishing you a fantastic week,